The Philadelphia Eagles may have started week 1 in a bumpy fashion, but they ended it in a dominant one. A 32-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons not only highlighted an explosive offense, but a defense that after a leaky opening drive was able to completely shut down the run and put pressure on a veteran QB. Week 2 sees a very different challenge.
The home opener will take place this Sunday, with the San Francisco 49ers coming to town on the back of a 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions. They suffered some key injuries in the process, but also flashed some wildcard elements that the team will have to prepare for. Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters in-depth on Tuesday about what to expect.
I think the greatest challenge to playing them is this is a very well-coached, physical football team. We’re going to have to match that intensity. They do a really good job of blocking. They do a really good job of running with the ball in their hands, creating RAC after contact from everybody from all the backs that touch the ball to the tight ends, to the receivers. They catch and run with the ball extremely well. We just got to have a good plan with what we’re doing with everything that they could throw at us.
We all knew that Trey Lance was going to play this season, we just didn’t know when. The North Dakota State product completed his first ever NFL pass for a touchdown on Sunday, and also rushed the ball 3 times. The Eagles are coming off of a year where they too had to battle a 2-QB dynamic, but their offense wasn’t nearly as creative as San Francisco’s. With Lance in the fold and a rapid receiving corps to accompany him and Jimmy G, the defense will have to remain focused at all times.
I would go probably playing New Orleans a couple years ago right when they kind of started with the Hill [Saints QB Taysom Hill] kid, you had to have a different plan for that. That’s the first one off the top of my head that you go back to.
There are teams that by which tailback is in the game, you have a different thought process. Which receivers are aligned where, there’s a different process to how you want to play. We’ve got to have a plan for everything and execute at a high level to give us a chance to win on Sunday.
It was interesting to hear Gannon mention Taysom Hill. The Eagles defensive coordinator was on the Colts team that lost 34–7 to the Saints in 2019. Hill didn’t do much at all that game, but the offense that Kyle Shanahan will roll out may have some strong similarities to what Gannon has already endured. He was also the Colts DB coach last year in the loss to Baltimore that saw Lamar Jackson rush for 58 yards and a touchdown. To say that he’s prepared for the task may be a bit of an understatement, but his next task is ensuring his defense has the same level of confidence.
The Niners offense is tricky. There’s a lot of misdirection, a ton of sweeps, counters screens, RPO’s, and rub concepts. For a very young Eagles defense in only its second game under Jonathan Gannon, there is a lot of pressure. The Lions defense may not be amazing, but the Niners forced 300 yards through the air and a 100-yard ground game from rookie RB Eli Mitchell. Complacency isn’t an option.
If you’re a guy that just needs to look right here, look right here. Don’t worry about where 44 [49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk] is going, what the quarterback is doing, don’t worry about [49ers WR] Deebo [Samuel] running across the formation. You just look at this guy right there. That’s how you’re going to win your individual matchup.
I think a lot of it’s just shrinking it down for our guys, ‘This is where you put your eyes, this is how you play.’ From there it’s football. There’s no call that we’re going to call that’s, like, the perfect magic call versus Kyle Shanahan. It’s our guys executing at a high level, destroying blocks, tackling, covering. That’s what the game comes down to.
Gannon appears to have the right mindset to try and help the Eagles see through the smoke and mirrors. Only time will tell if that will be enough to advance to 2-0 on the season.
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